This Is Fine

September 01, 2022

While Kremlin ‘masterminds’ want to rewrite history and prepare for a glorious future, the past seems to be catching up with them.

Monuments, as with everything else connected to history, have long been a treasured topic for pro-Kremlin propagandists. Understandably, because the one ‘who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,’ as Orwell famously put it in his novel 1984. As a testament to this idea, Russian spy chief Sergey Naryshkin decided to frame Russia’s ongoing and unjustified invasion of Ukraine also in historical terms, claiming somewhat confusingly that Russia is fighting for its ‘historical future.’

Tearing Down Monuments to Past Lies

Since Russia’s launch of all-out war against Ukraine in February 2022, European countries have been taking steps to further distance themselves from an unwarranted and hurtful Soviet legacy.

Steps taken include relocating or tearing down Soviet-related monuments serving as reminders of past lies, such as the brutal Soviet occupation that Soviet and later Russian disinformationists called ‘liberation,’ an Orwellian term. The Kremlin’s disinformation outlets are, as expected, pushing back on such attempts to reclaim the past.

In Estonia, for example, a Soviet T-34 tank-cum-monument took centre stage. Until 16 August, it was located in Narva, the easternmost city of Estonia that has a large Russian-speaking majority. The tank had been a wedge issue for some time, but what sparked locals to gather around the monument in support of it were rumours spread on social media that the tank was to be dismantled on 3 August. At that time, no decisions had yet been taken. Regardless, Baltnews, RuBaltic, and an RT employee covering the Baltics were quick to add fuel to the fire and agitate people on social media.

Fast forward almost two weeks and the Estonian government did decide to relocate the tank from its public space due to mounting tensions around it. On 16 August, the area around the monument was secured by police and the tank was peacefully relocated.

The relocation did not go unnoticed by pro-Kremlin propagandists. For Maria Zakharova and Russian Channel One, it was almost too good of an excuse to lash out yet again against Estonia, misleadingly labelling the incident a threat to human rights and democracy, and Estonian politicians as the puppets of Anglo-Saxon masters (see EUvsDisinfo story on the theme here).

Regardless of the wrath spewed by pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets, European countries such as Poland and Latvia have continued to eradicate the remnants of Soviet-era monuments. Such memorials were originally designed and erected to glorify Soviet imperialism and deceive contemporary and future generations alike about the factual history.

‘De-Nazification’, but at a slower pace, and at times in reverse

The disinformation narrative falsely accusing Ukraine of being Nazi is still among the most pervasive themes in the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem. These accusations include promulgating videos allegedly proving Ukraine’s fascist behaviour. Such videos are also promoted by Russian diplomatic accounts, including at the UN by the First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN and the official account of the Russian Embassy in Egypt.

In a likely effort to explain the lack of significant progress of the ‘special military operation’, pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets revived the previously (in May) used narrative that the Russian military is deliberately slowing down the pace of the war to minimise civilian casualties.

However, this disinformation narrative falls flat on its face, as there is daily evidence and examples of the contrary, such as the horrific missile strike on the Chaplyne train station on Ukraine’s Independence Day that left 25 people dead and more than 30 people injured. The strike took place less than 24 hours after Russian Defence Minister Shoigu yet again made the false claim that Russian forces avoid civilian targets.

Despite repeated attempts to placate their boss in the Kremlin, including FSO chief Viktor Zolotov’s reality-twisting presentation to President Putin that invited internet memes and mockery, the idea that ‘everything is not fine’ is finally sinking in at the Kremlin. According to some sources, Shoigu and half a dozen top generals have been side-lined despite their repeated claims of progress, albeit slow, in ‘preserving civilian lives’. Probably to the great satisfaction of the commentators demanding more hawkish policies shown constantly on Russian propaganda outlets, like on this show.

Nevertheless, as per latest reports, it seems like Russian military progress is currently conducted mostly in reverse, including some individuals fleeing all the way back to Russia. Naturally, we are inclined to believe this since pro-Kremlin propagandists vehemently deny it.

In other disinformation news:

  • Ukrainian secret services are behind the murder of the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin. This looks like a typical pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory and disinformation about Ukraine or its secret services. There is no evidence to substantiate the claims that Ukraine was behind the assassination of Darya Dugina in Moscow. Russia almost immediately accused Ukraine of the assassination, providing only dubious ‘evidence’ that has not been independently verified. Ukraine has denied any involvement in the attack. The same goes for Estonia and the UK.
  • The West is Nazi because it supports Nazism in Ukraine. In pro-Kremlin delusions, not only is Ukraine Nazi, but the entire West goes in the same bin. This is a recurring disinformation narrative from pro-Kremlin outlets discrediting the West and serving as a justification for Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.
  • The West buried agreements guaranteeing the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine. The claim that the West somehow violated agreements on Ukraine and allegedly provoked the Russian invasionof Ukraine is a key message of pro-Kremlin disinformation. By trying to put the blame on the West for the Russia’s war in Ukraine, this disinformation narrative aims to deflect Russia’s responsibility for its unprovoked military aggression against a neighbouring country.


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